Climate Change debate – Moscow to become the capital of green buildings?

Guy Eames

Last week’s Climate Change Forum in Moscow was the first of its kind in Russia ever. Over 3000 delegates at Moscow’s city centre Manezh, including hundreds of international experts debated the science and consequences of climate change. Presentations from all over the world showed how extreme weather is affecting the way people live and work as well as changes in eco systems. The myth that Russia will benefit from Climate change as a whole was well and truly challenged.Regardless of whether one is a ‘believer’ in Climate Change, especially the causes, pretty much everyone agrees about weather patterns changing and the need for solutions to ADAPT. Mankind has been pretty good at adapting over the millennia and today with so much technology and information out there, climate change acts more as a stimulus or catalyst for switching to a next generation and usually more efficient ways of doing things.Electric vehicles – silent green buses, self-driving electrically powered cars such as Tesla are much talked about. Indeed, few now doubt that the rush to such inspiring and exciting forms of transport can be stopped. Car manufacturers such as Volvo are announcing a total move away from nonelectric or hybrid cars from as early as 2019. We watch on YouTube the latest trial drones which can transport people without a pilot. Even the world of yachting starts moving towards much cleaner and efficient electrically powered engines.

But what about buildings? How can they play a role? Why don’t we read so much about them in the press? Well buildings consume around 50% of energy and we spend around 80% of our time inside them. Companies are looking for productivity gains and the right buildings can provide exactly that – a competitive edge where people feel more comfortable and actually enjoy coming to work! We’ve all noticed around us how new construction methods allow much more stylish buildings to be built – with plenty of natural light, better air and better acoustics. Well you may be glad to know that in many developed countries, hundreds of thousands of buildings are being built which use many times less energy and water, have much cleaner environments – these buildings are called GREEN BUILDINGS and Russia already has a few hundred of them.Green building not only creates better buildings but brings new skills to the market. Building modelling and BIM (Building Information Model) are two good examples. The leading colleges in Russia are now teaching students how to use BIM and IESVE programs. The UK which adopted BIM for all new state funded projects estimates that savings of up to 33% can be made in construction costs and can save up to 50% of the time required to complete buildings.At the Climate Forum a magical thing started to happen – until now Green Building has been market driven, where investors or occupiers demand that bildings are built to green standards. At the Forum state run bodies started to join them – apparently starting to see the benefits. A breakthrough ‘Eureka’ moment – On the second day of the Forum, led by Moscow’s Environmental guru Mr Kulbachevsky, it was announced by Moscow’s largest property developer (PIK Group) that their bid to develop Kuzminki – 86 new residential buildings spanning 109 Hectares will be designed to BREEAM standards!This breakthrough is the culmination of cooperation between the Green Building Council Russia (RuGBC), the Moscow State Construction University (MGSU) and UK’s Building Research Establishment. The three have been working to ‘localise’ BREEAM (BRE’s Environmental Assessment Method). Around 250 buildings have been registered or certified to BREEAM in Russia already, however with the Russian version to be launched this autumn, the construction industry is starting to realise the benefits of an independently assessed but more understandable standard. As the market grows it becomes more affordable which further expands the green approach.

109 Hectares competes size-wise only with the Chinese ‘green’ mega-cities, putting Russia firmly on the world map of green buildings.

Links: Green Building Council – www.rugbc.org

BREEAM – http://www.breeam.com/why-breeam

Climate Forum –  http://climate-forum.ru/ru/

PIK Announcement (in Russian) – http://realty.interfax.ru/ru/news/articles/85027/

Moscow State Construction University – http://mgsu.ru/en/

BIM in the UK Report – https://www.thenbs.com/-/media/uk/files/pdf/nbs-national-bim-report-2017.pdf’?la=en

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